IN January 2022, almost 11 years after Prince Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein was made public, the Queen stripped Andrew of his royal patronages and honorary titles, except for three – vice-admiral of the Royal Navy, Duke of York and Earl of Inverness.

The move came just 24 hours after a letter was sent to the Palace – as was widely reported – calling on the Queen to do just that. It was a letter I drafted and which was signed by 150 former services personnel.

These men and women, officers and NCOs, expressed their dismay that Andrew’s continued association with the military was bringing our armed forces into disrepute.

Three months later and Andrew was stripped of the Freedom of the City of York by the city’s local council.

One councillor said, “it is no longer appropriate for Prince Andrew to represent York and its residents,” and called on the Queen to strip the prince of his Duke of York title too. Yet, he retains that title, just as he remains – to this day – the Earl of Inverness.

Quite why the good people of Inverness deserve the ignominy of a continued association with Andrew is a mystery. It certainly isn’t by choice. As recently as January this year a poll carried out by The National showed 72% of Scots wanted the prince to lose his earldom.

Yet despite this overwhelming demand the Queen and now the King have remained silent on the issue. Andrew, of course, is keen to cling on to what’s left of his unearned status.

READ MORE: SNP MP: ‘Utter disgrace that Andrew claims lordship over Inverness’

It’s hardly a surprise that Inverness wants to lose their earl. Andrew still stands accused of serious sex offences and while they have yet to be proven, he hasn’t helped himself or dampened suspicion by his strenuous efforts to avoid answering difficult questions.

In his arrogance – or perhaps naivety – he thought he could make the whole thing go away with what he assumed would be a soft-soap interview with the BBC. Instead, he dug himself a hole he could not get out of, not least with his bizarre claims about eating in a Woking Pizza Express and having never met his accuser, Virginia Guiffre, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Since then he has reneged on a promise to co-operate with the FBI, tried to dodge being served court papers and paid off Guiffre to the tune of £12 million. Yet still he remains, Earl of Inverness.

Drew Hendry, the MP for the city, said in response to the January poll: “It would be very hard to find anyone in Inverness, or the wider Highlands, who thinks Andrew should hold on to his titles, especially ‘Earl of Inverness’.”

Unlike Andrew, Hendry can claim to represent the city, yet his views and those of the people mean nothing to the monarch.

All this points to how daft, meaningless and outdated these titles are. Last September, William was made Prince of Wales without even a brief pause for debate, let alone the question being put to the people of Wales.

Likewise, 11 years earlier the people of Cambridge discovered William was now their duke without a single resident being asked if that was OK.

These titles convey a relationship with people’s cities and countries that simply doesn’t exist and confers status and rank upon people for no reason other than their relationship to the head of state.

Andrew was gifted his Inverness title as a wedding present from his mother, just as William’s dukedom was to mark his marriage to Kate.

Yet when it becomes plain for all to see that the Earl of Inverness is no longer welcome in the city, or indeed anywhere, there’s nothing any of us can do. Although, perhaps there is.

Because as their support falls – as it has been doing since the King’s accession last year – the royals will become increasingly sensitive to public opinion. So a loud and persistent campaign may well prod Charles in the right direction

If not, then perhaps a protest at the gates of Balmoral might spark some response, forcing Charles to wonder if calls of Not My Earl will soon add to louder calls of Not My King.

READ MORE: Inverness locals say they want Prince Andrew stripped of ‘earl’ title

It’s high time we did away with the monarchy for many reasons. On principle it is simply wrong, in practice it holds the people in contempt and stands largely beyond the reach of real scrutiny or accountability.

Progress is being made on the path to a republic, polls are showing falling support and attitudes are changing. Enthusiasm for the coronation is under 10%. Yet it will take time to reach that point when we will, as a nation, step up and abolish this ridiculous institution.

So perhaps on the road to abolition we can start by scrapping these daft titles that force unwanted princes on to cities that have never once been asked if they wanted such a questionable honour.

And where better to start than to campaign for the liberation of Inverness from the ignominious and toxic association with Prince Andrew.

Republic is a campaign organisation which aims to abolish the monarchy and replace it with an elected head of state.

Graham Smith’s new book Abolish The Monarchy: Why We Should and How We Will is out on June 1 and is available for pre-order here.